Squaring the Circle


A friend called my attention to the strange colored dots on the bottoms of the cans of soft drinks and beer sold in cafes and restaurants. I looked closer and it was true, the mark was red on some, blue or green on others, all drawn with a marker. I looked around and even on the empty or half-crushed cans at the recycling center the curious “seal” was on a good share of them. The contours were not as precise as from a labeling machine, but rather showed the unsteady stroke of a hand that is doing something forbidden.

Well yes, although it might sound simple, behind this colored dot lies a lucrative network that uses the State enterprises to sell private goods. The food service employees buy the canned drinks in hard currency stores, and then sell them – in the businesses where they work – getting a mark-up on each one of between 10% and 50% over the initial price. During the working day they give priority to the sale of their “own” products, while setting aside or delaying the sale of those from the State. At the end of the day, with the added centavos from each sale, they accrue dividends much greater than the symbolic salary they receive in the national currency.

So the colored dots indicate who owns the drinks that have been sold. Those of the local administrator might be marked in red, the waitress’s marked in blue, and the cook probably decided to opt for an orange dot. Everyone gets a share. If not, what would be the point of having to get up early, ride a packed bus, and work eight hours just to get the equivalent of $20 US dollars at the end of the month. Also, clandestine factories produce Bucanero and Cristal beers with the same appearance as the originals and even long time drinkers can barely tell the difference. These knock-off industries are located in what looks like family homes, in whose rooms a canning device snaps on the lids. These products will displace those produced by the State, with those made by the most disloyal of competitors to this great Patrón, and will also rip off a good share of its customers. A labyrinthine network of counterfeiting and resale that undermines the dysfunctional centralization and diverts profits to thousands of private pockets.

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117 thoughts on “Squaring the Circle

  1. Freud – I missed all the rules of engagement on this Blog. I guess we’ll just have to look to you for direction…NOT!

  2. 114Barbara Curbelo

    Mayo 14th, 2010 at 14:28
    Associated Press:
    Bank agrees to forfeit $500 million to US
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Our foolish brigade seems to be in need of get an English language interpretation course….. They are posting news that demonstrates castrofascism is in need of laundry money!!!!!……. why need a country to laundry money????….. Obviously because this country gets money from illegal sources!!!!
    It is not the first time castro regimen is coutgh laundring money and some international bank is fined for being involved in the illegal action.
    In the next months we will have more news about castrofascism involving in drug trafficing and other corruption cases.

  3. The proof that the “end justifies the means”, the power of negotiation & blindness of the law all in one coment.

  4. Associated Press:
    Bank agrees to forfeit $500 million to US
    By PETE YOST (AP) – 3 days ago

    WASHINGTON — A bank formerly known as ABN Amro Bank N.V. agreed on Monday to pay the government $500 million for facilitating the movement of illegal funds through the U.S. financial system, the Justice Department announced.

    The bank, now named the Royal Bank of Scotland N.V., helped the countries of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Cuba and banks in those nations evade U.S. laws, according to papers filed in the case. All four foreign countries were under U.S. economic sanctions for supporting international terror.

    Court papers say some of ABN Amro’s offices systematically circumvented economic sanctions by advising banks in the sanctioned countries how to evade filters at financial institutions in the United States.

    ABN Amro was charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States and one count of failing to maintain an adequate anti-money laundering program. The conspiracy count alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act.

    The Justice Department says ABN Amro will be under a deferred prosecution agreement. The U.S. government will recommend dismissal of the charges against the bank in one year if the financial institution cooperates with U.S. investigators.

    In 2005, ABN Amro paid penalties in the case to various regulatory bodies and to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    ABN Amro’s alleged misconduct involved “stripping information from transactions and turning a blind eye to its compliance obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who oversees the Justice Department’s criminal division.

    U.S. Attorney Ron Macahen said that over the course of a decade, ABN Amro assisted banks in the sanctioned countries in carrying out hundreds of millions of transactions that evaded U.S. laws.

  5. I think the idea is to have an open, tolerant & respectfull mind applied to this “dialogue”.
    At times gets out of hand … but so be it …
    It is w/admiration & respect that I look forward to reading the many postings Humberto takes the time to “digest” & then share …
    But you may realize as well that there are other people who quotes & includes the source site, the idea is to be as objective as possible within human reason.
    My take on the idea for this site is to communicate, to share information, to help a cause to some for what I hope are ovious reasons beyond the simple education.
    As before … thank you for sharing, thank you for being a “doubting Thomas” :-)

  6. Albert

    Looks like “we”, meaning you and I, as well as many others know the thruth about Cuba. I said that I was only interested on the thruth and I am. But I also said that I read the blog in search for unadulterated news. In other words I know the situation in Cuba, I just want news from Cuba that don’t come from the goverment. However there is a number of people that come to blogs like Yoany’s in search for the thruth. They have two different stories and truly don’t know what to believe. That’s why, in my opinion, there is no room for speculation and the credibility of the bloger is everything.

  7. The problem (speaking for myself) is in understanding the nature of the abuse (for lack of e better term) the cuban people is & has been subjected to.
    Is in understanding the cuban perspective to what it is been lived day by day.
    In freer societies the “rules” of life may be different, the neccesities & priorities different as well.
    I am sorry I am not as articulate as I wish … but the end “justifies the means exists” in this case is illustrated by the need “resolving” the problem at hand is then the action that inspired the comment.
    The term survive is not used as “life or death urgency” but as a unit of priority.
    Its like the expression “had to be there”.
    Lastly I want to thank you for your curiosity & your choice to search for the truth, I hope you find it at least when it comes to Cuba & the people who rules her.
    Life has tought me to be a “doubting Thomas” & that is how I look at things, open minded, slow to judge & fair as much as my passion allows me.

  8. Albert

    I want to make something clear. My comments are not intended to defend the cuban goverment. I’m well aware of the day to day struggle for surviving of the cuban people. I want he current situation in Cuba to change just as much as anyone. The reason why I started reading her blogs is to get news and a prespective from Cuba that does not come from the goverment. I just don’t suscribe to ends justifes the means theory. I started reading this blog because like I said before, I’m interested in the thruth. There is plenty to write about Cuba without the need for speculation. Like I said is an issue of credibility.

  9. You’re right, is not hearsay, she did not say that someone told her that. Can you tell me what it is then? Don’t tell me that is an observation, an observation would be limited to just noticing the dots and perhaps wondering why the’re there. Let’s see, she was not told by anybody what they ment, yet she has the only logical explanation. My possible explanation has to be speculation, not hers. Sorry but I don’t believe that most of de profits for the sale of beverages in Cuba goes to the cook, administrator or waitress. The goverment would have found out about it and put a stop to it by now. You could get away with a can here and there, but not most of the cans. I also believe that you don’t use a speculation (and it is a speculation) as a hook to convey a message, it takes away from your credebility.

  10. An observation is not heresay, is just an observation.
    In this case used to illustrate a few points.

    Learn to read w/an open mind before jumping to conclusions, judging & condemning …
    Apply the same tolerance & understanding you think you are “entitlend” to.

  11. … how do you know the “story is made up” or not?
    What qualifies you as the owner of the truth? or the true facts?
    If it is heresay for you … the idea of a free enterprise & the illustration of the regular Cuban’s resourcefulness is more than heresay.
    Perhaps your focus in your inability to accept contradiction … for “reader only” of course … by the way I still call it speculation since you have no proof to the contrary.
    If you had … you would have produced inmediatly, just to “prove your point” so … now you’ll have to look for it don’t you? or perhaps dismiss this comment as another “rant”? or misdirect or insult?
    Context … context …

  12. 69Barbara Curbelo

    Mayo 11th, 2010 at 10:43
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.or…..81209.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    So called “Cuban 5” are part of a gang of 14 agents that worked for castrofascism spying the Cuban nation in exile and infiltrating some organizations that worked for Cuba’s freedom and specially a organization called “Brother to the Rescue” that worked hard to rescue Cuban, Haitian and Dominican rafters in Florida’s strait waters. Brother to the Rescue was very hated by castrofascism because it humanitarian labor rescuing Cubans that escaped regimen in a time where castrofascism preferred all deserters death and worked hardly for reaching it goal killing all rafters that was found trying to escape and sinking all rafts, boats or yachts that could….. Brothers to the Rescue frustrated many of this assassination in international waters by alerting the international media and US coast guard about what was happening…. in such way castrofascism thugs were caught infraganti by international media cameras and US coast guard that made them retreat and saved in such way many lives……. castrofascism hate on Cubans and specially on Brothers to the Rescue reached its climax when the infiltrated agent “Roque”, one of the members of the castro gang, reported to castrofascism intelligence organs the day, hour and place where the small aircraft of Brothers to the Rescue will be flying in August 1995 so castrofascism could assassinate the men of this humanitarian organization. War airplanes of casto air force found the small planes at the place informed for the infiltrated agent and proceeded to shoot down. As result of this complot 4 American citizens died….. another criminal activity in the agenda of those Cuban spies was to infiltrate other organizations to try influence the members to commit violent actions with the objective of produce a justification for castrofascism propaganda that always accused Cubans in exile of perform violent attacks on Cuba…… all this I am relating can be found in the records of the trial to the 14 agents of this gang…. those record are public so it is no hard to find them…….. 9 of those agents which criminal actions were not too severe collaborated with US authorities and helped to bring up all truth about this case….. the 5 that remain in prison were found guilty of very serious crimes and condemned to long sentences….. castrofascism raised a propaganda campaign about this 5 criminal with the superficial intention of bringing them to “freedom” in Cuba but with the real intention of getting them under castrofascism control and probably punish them for revealing sensible information under the trial that compromises castrofascism with many crimes against Cuban nation in exile and other crimes of espionage on USA.
    I repeat….. all this information can be found in the record of the trial held on this gang including the 5 in prison….. it is public record ……..

  13. The “CUBAN 5” are SPIES, agents of Castro’s Government who illegally entered the USA to do CASTROs work. They got caught , had their day in court with excellent legal representation and now serving a just sentance in US air conditioned JAILS. I personally think a spy should be hung from a large tree. Those who support these Government agents can only be REGIME APOLOGIST. Freedom of press is a great thing and maybe Cuba one day can experiance the same. In the mean time everyone should support a web site found at http://www.americateve.com with a campaign to ID those in Cuba who violate the rights of others.

  14. I’m not “hooked” on anything and if you call my comment “speculation”; what do you call Yoani’s blog?. Her information was hearsay and she turned this hearsay into a fact in her blog. You want me only to look at the “context” is hard for me to do that when the context is inside a lie. I normally don’t have any comments, I just read the blogs. For the reasons listed in my other comments I had to weight in on this one. Talk about “the end justifies the means”……make up a story in order to bring up your point whatever that might be. I’m not interested in the context when is presented that way. It makes her the same as the govertment that she is criticizing.

  15. the point still is … its all speculation on your part … you are the one “hooked” on the dot & it meaning … still misisng the point …
    As I repeat over & over … context, context.
    Perhaps there is an inability to “see” it or perhaps is the “tunnel vision” syndrome?
    By the way … good try at deflexion since nothing else has worked.
    Which proves to me your “the end justifies the means” attitude which you support w/ a strong belief in “entitlements” you have not either earned or have grown to enjoy just yet …

  16. Rick – touché

    I had the same arguments, but I was dismissed as a castrofascist, or as an agent of the Cuban Government, etc. Perhaps Albert doesn’t like thinking women disagreeing with him.

  17. The point is in my opinion is that you shouldn’t turn a “speculation” into a “fact” just because you need a “hook”. Your credibility tends to go down a few notches when you do that. Further more, let’s assume that what she wrote was true. What is going to happen to the cook, waitress that subsidize their income with these sales. Is the goverment going to launch an investigation and put an end to it because of her blog? Will these people loose the ability to make a little cash on the side to improve their situation? It seems to me that she only cares about her situation and how to improve it.

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